Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flying High

I have been dreaming about flying over Milford Sound ever since I began planning my trip here. The day to fly finally arrived. After perusing the activities guide book, I selected a flight somewhat at random. Alpine Air was a bit more reasonable than some for the flying time so I called them from the Manapouri hotel at 8 am to reserve a flight. Ian, the guy who answered the phone, said to call back at noon to confirm that the weather was good enough to fly.

We drove to the 2 and a half hours to Queenstown where we were spending the night. I drove like a pro, the left side seems fairly normal now. At noon I called and Ian answered again and said that we would be able to fly around 1 pm and that they could pick me up at my hotel in Queenstown. Ian himself showed up in his jeep and said that we were picking up 2 other passengers. The 3 of us gals squeezed together in the back seat and Ian grinned and said that the jeep was bigger than the plane we would be in. He was not only the receptionist and the chauffeur, he was also the pilot and we were going up in a little 4 seater Cessna single engine plane.

Ian reminded me a bit of Ricky Gervais. He was very funny and nice. The other passengers were a young gal from Auckland and another from Melbourne. Neither had been in a little plane before. Ian casually wrote down our names and we walked out on the grassy field to the plane. He handed us life jackets to wear since we were flying over water. The woman Emma suggested that a parachute might be more handy. Ian laughed and said that it was located inside the life jacket, along with a tent and a chocolate bar. Emma liked the thought that Ian was a father and therefore motivated to have us all survive the flight.

We got buckled in, put our headsets on and began taxiing over the grass to the runway. I was seated up front next to Ian and there were a set of controls and steering in front of me. I was tempted to use them but wisely kept my hands where they belonged- taking pictures with my camera. Before I knew it we were off the ground and heading towards the amazing local mountain range named The Remarkables. And they are!!!! I was used to looking up at them from the lake level. It was shocking to be in a tiny little plane and looking directly out at them. I didn't let myself think too hard about the size of the plane and just enjoyed the spectacular view. It was unbelievably beautiful, simply breath taking.

We flew along the mountains and then turned to go through some valleys and eventually out to the ocean. Ian pointed out the sites including a few Lord of the Rings filming sites. We continued down the coast and then turned in to Milford Sound. When Laurel and I went on the boat cruise through the sound yesterday it was bright and sunny. Today the weather had turned and there were clouds and mist in the sound. I loved seeing it like this, misty and romantic and foreboding. I loved the sensation of flying and seeing everything from that height. On the way back Ian flew in some valleys where there were glaciers and went really close to them.

This truly was an unforgettable experience. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity and that I mananged to randomly choose one of the only air companies to fly in such small planes. I hope you like the photos!


Blogger Unknown said...

I thought I recognized some of those places in LotR. ;) Stunning.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Oh man! what an amazing experience. Now if Frodo was only smart like you and took a plane, he could have saved so much trouble!

7:39 PM  

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